The charity, founded by Leicestershire based Emma Hallam, raises vital funds for clinical trials and research into treatment options and ultimately a cure, for an aggressive form of Muscular Dystrophy, called Duchenne.
Emma started the charity five years ago when her son, Alex, was diagnosed with the condition and has since appointed a board of trustees and employed one full time member of staff. Emma’s introduction to Vistage came 15 months ago, when an existing group member introduced her to the Midlands’ leading Vistage Chair, Chris Everard.
Emma said: “I was slightly daunted by the idea of joining a group of business owners at first, but Chris and the rest of the group put me at ease instantly. My first few months as a Vistage member were kindly sponsored and the experience I’ve had since has been invaluable for the charity.
“Vistage allows members to speak very openly and honestly about the challenges they may be having to help resolve and overcome them. The advice I have received from such a wide variety of Businesspeople has seen my confidence soar – group members have helped sense check and facilitate the ideas I’ve had to expand, which has seen the charity rapidly go from strength to strength.”
Since joining Vistage, Emma has been introduced to a network of businesses from across the East Midlands, which have been eager to become more involved in CSR. Vistage Members from leading local companies including Anthony James Insurance Brokers, Janine Edwards Wealth Management, Fashion UK and Spirit Healthcare have chosen to support Alex’s Wish with a wide variety of fundraising activities such as sponsored cycles and walks throughout the year so far. Other businesses, including financial advisors, Furnley House, have put on charity balls and other large events, bringing together businesses from across the region to raise sums of up to £30,000. In total, Vistage member’s and their businesses have contributed over £70,000 to the charity.
Emma continued: “All of this would not have been possible without the Vistage network. All of the Business Owners and Execs I have met through my time as a member have been so incredibly supportive of me as an individual and a business Director to help increase the visibility and longevity of the charity. It has helped me to take more of a strategic view of Alex’s Wish and our goals for the future.
“There is still a long way to go – there is currently no cure for Duchenne and we’re constantly working towards finding new treatment options to improve quality of life for the young boys it affects. I do feel like the progress we’ve made with Alex’s Wish is making a huge difference in bringing us a step closer to finding a cure. I can’t thank Chris enough for the coaching he has given me personally, and the impact Vistage has had on the charity so far.”
Through working with Vistage, Emma was able to set up the Alex’s Wish Business Club in February this year. The Club brings together members and guests from across over 20 businesses on a monthly basis to network, present their ideas and watch speakers. The Club was an idea Emma was keen to bring to life to provide a source of regular income for the charity, and with the support, experience and expertise of her Vistage group, the concept became a reality, now making over £26,000 per year in aid of Duchenne.
Chris Everard, the Chair of Emma’s Vistage group and Trustee of Alex’s Wish, said: “It’s been a pleasure to watch Emma grow into a confident, ambitious and strategic Charity Director. Vistage has opened many doors for Emma, enabling great exposure for the charity across the local business community. The appetite for CSR is growing among SMEs and the way Emma has created a personal charity, with a strong message that people can relate to, has worked extremely well for her.
“Emma is a credit to herself and is a clear example of what Vistage is all about – giving Directors the assurance, drive and accountability to bring ambitious ideas to life. I was honoured to become a Trustee of the charity recently and look forward to further supporting Emma to achieve her goals for Alex.”
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is an aggressive form of Muscular Dystrophy that affects 1 in every 3,500 boys born and results in eventual total paralysis. If you would like to support Alex’s Wish, please visit: http://alexswish.co.uk/getinvolved/.
Vistage is a network of peer groups for like-minded Business Owners and Senior Executives and has 22,000 members worldwide.